English Language Arts

English language arts (ELA) standards for instruction apply to core ELA courses in all grades K-12. Standards set high expectations for all students to ensure that Tennessee graduates are prepared for the rigorous literacy demands of college and career.

Tennessee’s State Standards

The Tennessee State Board of Education adopted new state ELA standards in 2010 to prepare students with the most important knowledge and skills to attain higher education or careers and succeed in an increasingly competitive work environment. These standards emphasize critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

The English language arts standards outline the reading, writing, language, speaking, listening, and research skills students will need to succeed in college and the workforce. With a renewed emphasis on the close reading of complex texts, especially literary nonfiction, the ELA standards require all students to graduate ready to read and respond to the academic and technical texts they will encounter throughout their adult lives.

For graduation requirements for ELA, please visit the Tennessee State Board of Education High School Policy.

Introduction to Tennessee's State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

Format and Key Terms

The standards for ELA are divided into six strands:

  • Reading: Literature (RL)
  • Reading: Informational Text (RI)
  • Reading: Foundational Skills (K-5) (RF)
  • Writing (W)
  • Speaking and Listening (SL)
  • Language (L)

A set of College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards, which spell out the ultimate expectations for college- and career-ready students, forms the pinnacle of each strand. At each K-12 grade level, the Anchor Standards are represented by specific iterations outlining the progression of skills as students move through the grades (note that the standards in grades 9-10 and 11-12 are banded together).  Standard notation is as follows: RL.6.2 (Reading Literature. Grade 6. Standard 2)

K-8 Standards

The State Board of Education (SBE) has the authority to adopt academic standards for each subject area in grades K-12. Click on the course title/grade level to view a description of the course and the standards adopted by the SBE. View the academic standards guidelines adopted by the state board.

High School Standards

The SBE sets the requirements for high school graduation. Per SBE Rule,students must achieve four high school level units of English language arts in order to graduate with a high school diploma. View a list of the courses required for high school graduation.

Advanced Placement

High School ELA Elective Courses

Writing Rubrics